In this study, we conducted a meta-analysis of self-controlled cohort studies comparing body weights, blood levels of lipids and fasting blood glucose levels before and after Ramadan taking into account gender differences. Several databases were searched up to June 2012 for studies showing an effect of Ramadan fasting in healthy subjects, yielding 30 articles. The primary finding of this meta-analysis was that after Ramadan fasting, low-density lipoprotein (SMD = −1.67, 95 % CI = −2.48 to −0.86) and fasting blood glucose levels (SMD = −1.10, 95 % CI = −1.62 to −0.58) were decreased in both sex groups and also in the entire group compared to levels prior to Ramadan. In addition, in the female subgroup, body weight (SMD = −0.04, 95 % CI = −0.20, 0.12), total cholesterol (SMD = 0.05, 95 % CI = −0.51 to 0.60), and triglyceride levels (SMD = 0.03, 95 % CI = −0.31, 0.36) remained unchanged, while HDL levels (SMD = 0.86, 95 % CI = 0.11 to 1.61, p = 0.03) were increased. In males, Ramadan fasting resulted in weight loss (SMD = −0.24, 95 % CI = −0.36, −0.12, p = 0.001). Also, a substantial reduction in total cholesterol (SMD = −0.44, 95 % CI = −0.77 to −0.11) and LDL levels (SMD = −2.22, 95 % CI = −3.47 to −0.96) and a small decrease in triglyceride levels (SMD = −0.35, 95 % CI = −0.67 to −0.02) were observed in males. In conclusion, by looking at this data, it is evident that Ramadan fasting can effectively change body weight and some biochemical parameters in healthy subjects especially in males compared to pre-Ramadan period.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL)
Randomized controlled trial
Standardized weighted mean difference
Adlouni, A., Ghalim, N., Benslimane, A., Lecerf, J. M., & Saile, R. (1997). Fasting during Ramadan induces a marked increase in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and decrease in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Annals of Nutrition and Metablolism, 41, 242–249.
Afifi, Z. E. (1997). Daily practices, study performance and health during the Ramadan fast. Journal of the Royal Society of Health, 117, 231–235.
Athar, S. & Habib, M. (1994). Management of stable type 2 diabetes mellitus NIDDM during Islamic fasting in Ramadan. Paper presented at the First International Congress on Health and Ramadan. Casablanca, Morocco.
Azizi, F. (2010). Islamic fasting and health. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 56, 273–282.
Bahammam, A. (2006). Does Ramadan fasting affect sleep? International Journal of Clinical Practice, 60, 1631–1637.
Bogdan, A., Bouchareb, B., & Touitou, Y. (2001). Ramadan fasting alters endocrine and neuroendocrine circadian patterns. Mealtime as a synchronizer in humans? Life Sciences, 68, 1607–1615.
Chaouachi, A., Leiper, J. B., Souissi, N., Coutts, A. J., & Chamari, K. (2009). Effects of Ramadan intermittent fasting on sports performance and training: A review. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 4, 419–434.
Dewanti, L., Watanabe, C., Sulistiawati, & Ohtsuka, R. (2006). Unexpected changes in blood pressure and hematological parameters among fasting and nonfasting workers during Ramadan in Indonesia. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 60, 877–881.
El Ati, J., Beji, C., & Danguir, J. (1995). Increased fat oxidation during Ramadan fasting in healthy women: An adaptive mechanism for body-weight maintenance. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 62, 302–307.
Furuncuoglu, Y., Karaca, E., Aras, S., & Yöntem, A. (2007). Metabolic, biochemical and psychiatric alterations in healthy subjects during ramadan. Pakistan Journal of Nutrition, 6, 209–211.
Guerrero, M. R., Ramírez, R. J., Sánchez, C. A., Villaverde, G. C., Ruiz, V. G., & Pérez, M. B. A. (2009). Dietary modifications, engaged in young Muslims of Ramadan fasting. Nutricion Hospitalaria, 24, 738–743.
Hallak, M. H., & Nomani, M. Z. A. (1988). Body weight loss and changes in blood lipid levels in normal men on hypo caloric diets during Ramadan fasting. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 48, 1197–1210.
Higgins, J. P. T., & Green, S. (2011). Cochrane handbook for systematic reviews of interventions version 5.1.0. (Updated March 2011) The Cochrane collaboration. http://www.cochrane-handbook.org. Accessed July 2, 2012.
Higgins, J. P., Thompson, S. G., Deeks, J. J., & Altman, D. G. (2003). Measuring inconsistency in meta-analyses. BMJ, 327, 557–560.
Husain, R., Duncan, M. T., Cheah, S. H., & Ching, S. L. (1987). Effect of Ramadan on tropical Asiatic Moslems. British Journal of Nutrition, 58, 41–48.
Iraki, L., Bogdan, A., Hakkou, F., Amrani, N., Abkari, A., & Touitou, Y. (1997). Ramadan diet restrictions modify the circadian time structure in humans. A study on plasma gastrin, insulin, glucose, and calcium and on gastric pH. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 82, 1261–1273.
Kassab, S., Ghaffar, T. A., Nagalla, D. S., Sachdeva, U., & Nayar, U. (2004). Interactions between leptin, neuropeptide-Y and insulin with chronic diurnal fasting during Ramadan. Annals of Saudi Medicine, 24, 345–349.
Kettani, H. (2010). World muslim population. In Proceedings of the 8th Hawaii international conference on arts and humanities. Honolulu, Hawaii, January 2010.
Khafaji, H. A. R., Bener, H. A., Osman, M., Merri, A. A., & Al Suwaidi, J. (2012). The impact of diurnal fasting during Ramadan on the lipid profile, hs-CRP, and serum leptin in stable cardiac patients. Vascular Health and Risk Management, 8, 7–14.
Lamine, F., Bouguerra, R., Jabrane, J., Marrakchi, Z., Ben Rayana, M. C., Ben Slama, C., et al. (2006). Food intake and high density lipoprotein cholesterol levels changes during Ramadan fasting in healthy young subjects. La Tunisie médicale, 84, 647–650.
Leonardo, G., & Gallis, G. (2003). Meta-analysis in medical research: The handbook for the understanding and practice of meta-analysis. Hoboken: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Maislos, M., Khamaysi, N., & Assali, A. (1993). Marked increase in plasma high density lipoprotein cholesterol after prolonged fasting during Ramadan. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 57, 640–642.
Maughan, R. J., Fallah, J., & Coyle, E. F. (2010). The effects of fasting on metabolism and performance. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 44, 490–494.
Murphy, M. C., Chapman, C., Lovegrove, J. A., Isherwood, S. G., Morgan, L. M., Wright, J. W., et al. (1996). Meal frequency: Does it determine postprandial lipaemia? European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 50, 491–497.
Nagra, S. A., Rahman, Z. U., & Javaria, M. (1998). Study of some biochemical parameters in young women as affected by Ramadan fasting. International Journal of Ramadan Fasting Research, 2, 1–5.
Nomani, M. Z. A. (1997). Dietary fat blood cholesterol and uric acid levels during Ramadan fasting. International Journal of Ramadan Fasting Research, 1, 1–6.
Nomani, M. Z. A., Baloch, S. K., & Siddiqui, I. P. (1992). Changes in serum cholesterol levels and dietary vegetable-fat at restricted energy intake condition during Ramadan fasting. International Journal of Food Science & Technology, 4, 30–36.
Nomani, M. Z. A., Hallak, M. H., & Siddiqui, I. P. (1990). Effect of Ramadan fasting on plasma uric acid and body weight in healthy men. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 90, 1435–1436.
Sadiya, A., Ahmed, S., Siddieg, H. H., Babas, I. J., & Carlsson, M. (2011). Effect of Ramadan fasting on metabolic markers, body composition, and dietary intake in Emiratis of Ajman (UAE) with metabolic syndrome diabetes. Metabolic syndrome and obesity. Targets and Therapy, 4, 409–416.
Savas, E., Öztürk, Z. A., Tanrıverdi, D., & Kepekçi, Y. (2012). Do Ramadan fasting restrictions alter eating behaviors in obese women? Journal of Religion and Health [Epub ahead of print].
Sliman, N. A., & Al-Khatib, F. A. (1988). Effect of fasting Ramadan on body weight and some blood constituents of healthy Muslims. Nutrition Reports International, 38, 1299–1306.
Stote, K. S., Baer, D. J., Spears, K., Paul, D. R., Harris, G. K., Rumpler, W. V., et al. (2007). A controlled trial of reduced meal frequency without caloric restriction in healthy, normal-weight, middle-aged adults. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 85(4), 981–988.
Streja, D. A., Boyko, E., & Rabkin, S. W. (1980). Changes in plasma high-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentration after weight reduction in grossly obese subjects. British Medical Journal, 281, 770–772.
Takruri, H. R. (1989). Effect of fasting in Ramadan on body weight. Saudi Medical Journal, 10, 491–494.
Toda, M., & Morimoto, K. (2000). Effects of Ramadan fasting on the health of Muslims. Nippon Eiseigaku Zasshi, 54, 592–596.
Trepanowski, J. F., & Bloomer, R. J. (2010). The impact of religious fasting on human health. Nutrition Journal, 9, 57–65.
Trepanowski, J. F., Canale, R. E., Marshall, K. E., Kabir, M. M., & Bloomer, R. J. (2011). Impact of caloric and dietary restriction regimens on markers of health and longevity in humans and animals: A summary of available findings. Nutrition Journal, 10, 107–119.
Tsai, A. C., Sandretto, A., & Chung, Y. C. (2003). Dieting is more effective in reducing weight but exercise is more effective in reducing fat during the early phase of a weight-reducing program in healthy humans. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 14, 541–549.
Yakoob, M. Y. (2006). Fasting during Ramadan and obesity. Saudi Medical Journal, 2, 23–26.
Ziaee, V., Razaei, M., Ahmadinejad, Z., Shaikh, H., Yousefi, R., & Yarmohammadi, L. (2006). The changes of metabolic profile and weight during Ramadan fasting. Singapore Medical Journal, 47, 409–414.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Electronic supplementary material
Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.
About this article
Cite this article
Kul, S., Savaş, E., Öztürk, Z.A. et al. Does Ramadan Fasting Alter Body Weight and Blood Lipids and Fasting Blood Glucose in a Healthy Population? A Meta-analysis. J Relig Health 53, 929–942 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-013-9687-0
- Body weight
- Lipid profile
- Blood glucose levels